Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

March 7, 2012

The company you keep in the empty moments

“I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.” – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

A friend invited me to my first meditation circle a few weeks ago and as nervous as I was to sit silently with my own thoughts, my curiosity got the better of me. I was pleasantly surprised and the experience left me wanting more. The nature of the event was beautiful. We started with one hour of silent meditation followed by a circle of sharing/reflection and then a wonderful meal and time for socializing with new friends. Here are some thoughts/reflections I remember from the silent meditation. As you can tell, they are extremely profound.

  • Oh man, what do I do now? Should I chant something? Count seconds? Focus on my breathing?
  • Ok, I will focus on my breathing. Oh no, I disrupted my breathing pattern. Oh no, I can’t catch my breath….
  • The door just opened. I shouldn’t open my eyes but I wonder who just came in. Ok, just this once. Uh oh – looks like I wasn’t the only one with that thought…..I exchange a brief guilty smile with my fellow meditation miscreant. 
  • Let me try chanting my favorite prayer – Om Tat Sat Shri – which I learned in India. Ok, this is working. I’ll try singing it slower to help pass the time. I’m starting to forget the words…
  • Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. 
  • I can’t believe I fell asleep. I’m awful. What do I do now? I know! I’ll make up a dance in my head.
  • That is so shallow. I should be reflecting or thinking deeply about something….anything.
  • How can anyone be silent and still for this long?
  • Chin slowly falls to chest. Zzzzzzzzz
  • Great, now I’m not going to have anything to share during reflection.
  • Is it cheating if I listen to music next time?
  • Have we really not reached an hour yet? My leg is falling asleep.

An hour is up. Someone rings the bell and my eyes fly open to watch everyone else put their hands over their eyes and slowly come back to the present moment. My first thought = “I am such a novice.”

Reflections: It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, my mind didn’t spiral out of control into an abyss of negativity, and most importantly I did it. I have heard that meditation refreshes and energizes you and to be honest, I didn’t feel like either of those but I did feel proud that I was able to sit silently for an hour. To me, this is a huge accomplishment and one that did create a mind shift for me. I have proactively resisted meditation in the past saying “Oh, it’s not for me.” But now, I am slowly starting to understand its purpose.

We live in a world of sensory overload and constant input. To me, an idle moment is inexcusable. I crave the input, the interaction, the constant sense of being “efficient”. What I realized during that meditation session is that in order to be the most effecient, we need to figure out “if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.”

This quote is from a wonderful poem I heard at another meditation retreat I attended recently (yes, I liked it enough to try it again!). The last line of the poem really stuck with me because I feel like it is precisely my goal for meditation. I have purposely made myself too busy to think, reflect, or hold myself accountable. I have scared myself into thinking that I must fill every empty moment with something because the alternative is unacceptable. I am afraid of the direction my thoughts will lead me but I have realized that for me, the goal of meditation will be to figure out who I am and who I want to be in those empty moments.

July 29, 2010

Day 4

  • Random Thought:: When we look back at our lives in ten, twenty, fifty years are we going to dwell more on the things we did do or the things we didn’t do? What is stopping us from doing what we really want to be doing? Practicality? Peer pressure? Social conditioning? Fear of failure?
  • Inspirational Individual(s):: My friend Naina who started a nonprofit organization with her family. Check out the Coalition for International Initiatives. Actually, Naina was inspiring even before this venture. 🙂 We, along with Yodit, were “Mama Tunnels” for the Tunnel of Oppression in 2007 and her positive energy, honesty, and passion have stayed with me ever since then. (Also, if you want to have a green wedding, let her know)
  • Musical Musing:: Playing for Change – Chanda Mama
  • Innovative Idea:: she28. Watch the video and try not to be moved. At she, we believe that a girl’s life does not have to stop every 28 days because of her menstrual cycle. Missing up to 50 days of school or work is not only a “blood cost” to women and girls, but to their families, communities, and nations as a whole.
  • Goal Update:: Yeah…about that….pretty much failing at everything. This is my 4th post in a month and I have barely practiced any musical instrument. I do sing to myself in the car. Maybe that counts. Consider it tuning.
July 9, 2010

Day 3

  • Random Thought:: I have been thinking about people with terminal illnesses. What must it feel like to know that you won’t survive for more than a few days, months, years? I guess this is where faith and hope and all of that comes in. What would you prioritize if you knew that you only had X amount of time to live? Would you try to do all of the things you have always wanted to do but never got around to? (Why aren’t we doing those things now…) Or would you focus on spending time with family and friends? Ok it’s a morbid though. Stop thinking about it.
  • Inspirational Individual(s):: Today I am inspired by the people who run and contribute to HollaBack DC – a blog which tracks street harassment in DC and empowers individuals to stand up for themselves. Their existence is not only (sadly) necessary but essential in giving women the courage to speak up in uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations.
  • Musical Musing:: Taoi Cruz – Dynamite –> tribute to the YJA Board/CHCC
  • Innovative Idea:: Tom’s Shoes – With every pair you buys, Tom’s donates a pair to someone in need. The shoes are expensive but are pretty awesome looking.
  • Goal Update:: I haven’t practiced in awhile 😦 Who said all the goal updates had to be positive….
July 7, 2010

Day 2

I never said that these 100 days had to be consecutive. 🙂 Please see previous post for explanation of 100 Day Challenge.

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  • Random Thought:: How can one be “born Jain” or born as any religion for that matter? Aren’t you just born into a family that practices a certain religion and that’s how you learn the rituals, values, etc.? I feel like it is ultimately my decision based on my own thought process. There is nothing in my genes or in my DNA (this is coming from a non-science major so please excuse the inaccuracies) that makes me Jain. Not being rebellious, just thinking…
  • Inspirational Individual(s):: Today I am inspired by the entire YJA board who planned the 2010 Jain Convention. There is so much planning and work that goes into it and I am just amazed at the result. You all literally created a space for 700+ people to come together not only to network and discuss but to spark conversations that turn into relationships for years to come. You deserve not only 3 days of sleep and a vacation but my eternal gratitude and respect.
  • Musical Musing:: Interviewing Aradhna, Christian devotional group on the radio show today. Playlist here. I like all but I like Jaya Deva a lot.
  • Innovative Idea:: Karma Tiffin – “Karma Tiffin is an experiment in gift economy lunch service.  We deliver organic, vegetarian, homemade meals in tiffins (stackable steel lunch containers that are extremely popular in India).  Meals are served as a gift, and recipients are encouraged to pay the gift forward in whichever way they are inspired.” I also love the quote they have on their site: “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  • Goal Update:: I practice my bansuri (bamboo flute) for about 20 minutes last week! It was….interesting to say the least. I did some scales and then tried some of the things that Ankurbhai taught me. I need a plan otherwise I am just going to dilly dally with my practice and unsuccessfully try to copy songs.
June 24, 2010

100 Day Challenge – Day 1 (Set a Goal With Me!)

**Don’t worry – my subsequent posts will NOT be this long.

I know that I am accountable only to myself but somehow that isn’t enough to shame me into action. There are so many things I want to learn about and tell people about but all I do is add them to my never-ending “To-Do” list and promise to come back to it at another time. Somehow, “another time”, never seems to arrive. Hence, the 100 Day Challenge. The time is now and even if nobody reads this, I will still share for the sake of posterity and writing practice! So, what is the 100 Day Challenge? (It is important to note that when I originally scribbled notes about this it was a 365 Day Challenge but I thought that was a bit too ambitious) Basically, for 100 days I will write a blog post each day. There are 5 components to this challenge (I really had to fight myself on alliterating all of them):

  • Random Thought – really anything random I think about during the day (trivial, reflective,
  • Inspirational Individual – someone who truly inspires me
  • Musical Musing – a song/band/genre that I want to share
  • Innovative Idea – disclaimer – these are not my ideas!
  • Goal Update – update on my progress

I welcome and encourage your participation on #5) Goal Update. This idea of combined goals is one that fascinates and excites me (yeah I know this isn’t a true combined goal model). A friend of mine has created an impressive platform for pursuing combined goals and this is my extremely informal way of doing that. The only support I can offer is mutual understanding and frustration at accomplishing these goals. There is no such thing as an easy goal. If it means something to you, then it is valid and meaningful and you should go for it!

How can you get involved? Comment on this post or a subsequent post and state your weekly/monthly/yearly goal. Track your progress by posting a comment whenever I post a blog post.

Here goes nothing or something or everything.

Day 1

  • Random Thought:: I’m pretty sure I look really ugly when I fall asleep on the Metro
  • Inspirational Individual:: Today I was reminded that Gowri K inspires me because she is all over Fbook with announcements about spoken word/poetry events she is either performing at or hosting. She also hosts an early early morning Poetry workshop which is worth all the praise in the world
  • Musical Musing:: Piyu Bole from Parineeta
  • Innovative Idea:: TimeBanks (thanks Allison) – For every hour you spend doing something for someone in your community, you earn one Time Dollar. Then you have a Time Dollar to spend on having someone do something for you. It’s that simple. Yet it also has profound effects. What an interesting model! Consider joining in DC?
  • Goal Update:: My goal is to practice music (sitar or flute) for 15 minutes every day and post to my blog “every day”. What is your goal?
January 9, 2010

Semester at Sea Reunion Voyage 2010 – Liveblogging!

January 8th – I’ve never blogged a full reunion voyage and I felt compelled to right now so I figured I would take advantage of my short-lived enthusiasm. So, here are the basics. I studied abroad with Semester at Sea in Fall 2005 and I have been involved ever since as a passionate alumni. I currently serve as a member of the Young Alumni Council (now pronounced “yak”) which falls under the Alumni Association Board of Directors. I feel so fortunate for this opportunity to remain involved with SAS in such an in-depth way. If you are unfamiliar with this program, I urge you to check out the website and consider applying for an upcoming voyage. You can attend as a student, staff, faculty, or Lifeong Learner. There is a place for you on Semester at Sea and I guarantee that you will not regret it for even a second.

Here are two albums I made on our first year anniversary of disembarking the ship – 1 and 2.

I actually started my first blog when I left for Semester at Sea and I have been blogging now and then ever since. I wanted to write about my reunion voyage experience because during a session today on marketing the SAS program one of the ideas was to blog about it – so, here I am!

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October 6, 2009

Rediscovering India (ABCDLady Article)

Rediscovering India

“The longest journey is the journey inward.” —Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld

InSPIRE (a summer program in India) participants get a taste of the real India

This summer, I embarked on a journey through India and discovered the truth in this quote. My visits to India in the past have been a flurry of extravagant weddings, chaotic shopping trips, endless visits to distant relatives and culinary over-indulgence, all while attempting to stay out of the suffocating heat. This time, I wanted something different. I wanted to experience the real India that rushes by me in a blur through the window of an air-conditioned car; the romantic India that I devour in novels, the resolute India that fought for independence from colonial rule, the dramatic India that I witness in movies and the humble India about which my mother reminisces.

Click HERE to read the rest of the article.

  • Click here to read Ankita’s (another InSPIRE particpant) article about Diwali
  • Click here to subscribe to ABCDLady – it’s FREE!
August 27, 2009

Song Book: Kraanti Geet

Have I mentioned how important music was in our InSPIRE experience? The coordinators even put together a song book for us with songs related to what we were seeing, feeling, and experiencing. Singing, humming, snapping, whistling, ukelele-ing, and flute-ing made our world go round. So, I uploaded 2 “mix tapes” – one with versions of songs in our songbook that I found online and one with recordings of us singing some of these songs. I wanted to highlight some of the songs in the song book and explain their meaning and relevance so I will start with the first section called “Kraanti Geet”. More to come later.

Kraanti Geet (Revolutionary Songs) – In the rich ground of the classical, semi-classical and folk music of India; from the strong spirit of song that permeates this country; are born words and melodies to express revolutionary ideas and to spur movements: for equality, for human rights, for women, for change, for democracy…

One song which we sang a lot was called “Mandir-Masjid” and the meaning really struck me. The song was written by Vinay Mahajan as a response to the communal violence occuring in Ahemdabad in 1985. (Source: AID website)

See below for the lyrics, translation, and video: 

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